Intelligence Disclosure in International Relations: Analysing Whistleblowing and State Secrecy


State intelligence disclosure practices, with changing times, are gaining more attention. The declaration of essential information collected by Government-run intelligence organisations is now treated as a part of building transparent governance systems. While Governments all over the globe make immeasurable efforts to safeguard their nations, some encroach upon the very values they are appointed to protect. In situations of dissonance, international security agencies have seen individuals become whistleblowers. Different cases of whistleblowing, highlighting varying circumstances of such will be looked through. This paper intends to study the role of whistleblowers and their forced intelligence disclosure. The impact of instances of forced and voluntary intelligence disclosure on the ever-changing landscape of international relations as international order changes will be analysed. Along with international relations and whistleblowing problems associated with intelligence disclosure will be focused upon, the problems covered include selective declassification of information that ends up creating a much larger deception, use of disclosed information as a means to force cooperation from either opposing forces within the nation or external Governments and using disclosure of information to create a narrative which is not necessarily fact-based perceptions. These problems on the surface seem connected yet their area and type of impact differ and hence are treated as different problems. Along with problems this paper aims to put forth suggestions designed to counter the mentioned problems. 

Keywords: State Secrecy, Government Whistleblowing, Intelligence Disclosure, Clandestine activities.


Despite many facets of state security, two aspects are studied.  The reason these specific parts are picked is due to their increasing need and the lasting impact they have on the global landscape despite being a state’s matter. 

Entailment of State Secrecy 

Since the era of World Wars state security-related information has been of utmost importance. It is essential to gather defence intelligence for countering and preparing for any form of external or internal disturbance to a nation’s sovereignty. The question that is raised is what category of information can be treated as classified national secrets that have to be beyond the purview of civil access.  

To begin with, it is imperative to understand the position of state secrecy in a political system, which is treated as inherent to the democratic system. The peculiarity of state secrecy lies within its opposing foundation to that of democracy, a systematic practice of state privacy from its citizens. Disregarding the importance of state secrets by treating it as privacy from its people would be misleading. Arguments for state secrecy hold due to their overwhelming need to maintain national security, and peace within the nations and prevent misled chaos. 

Prevention of abuse of state secrecy can only be carried out by a regulatory framework that defines what entails within the scope of state secrecy. State secrets have to entail information that will certainly cause damage to a nation’s interest. This concealment mechanism is put in place to guarantee the promotion of national safety and it also becomes the basis for immediate security policies. 


What are the consequences of discordance between an individual’s definition of national security and the actions of their nation’s agency? The answer is the emergence of Whistleblowers. Whistleblowing is defined as revealing information from a private or public organisation to divulge in the account of corrupt practices within an organisation. Whistleblowers disclose this information at an extreme risk. In the absence of a legal framework and societal support, whistleblowers end up in extremely fatal or precarious circumstances. Whistleblowers who disclose faulty practices fall in an opposing category to traitors who divulge classified information to enemy parties for personal gain. It is because of this distinction that the highest courts of various nations have pushed for legislation for the protection of whistleblowers. 

International Intelligence Cooperation

Information exchange in the field of national intelligence might seem antithetical to the very idea of state secrecy. It plays an important role in the collection of intelligence. Intelligence cooperation among nations is not a new concept. World War paved the way for the exchange of mass information among NATO members on the Soviet Union and their allies. A joint practice of intelligence missions has proved to be important time and again across nations and circumstances. After all, an enemy’s enemy will always be a friend.

Click Here To Download The Paper  

Author: Jesal Sheth